Danny Lawson, PA Wire
You don't have to be observing Lent to want to make the most of Pancake Day, though fasting may sound appealing after your fifth Nutella-smothered pancake. When done properly, the pancakes of Shrove Tuesday are one of our most delicious traditions, hailing back to the days when households would make batter to use up the sugar, fat and dairy forbidden during the following 40 days of Lent. Whether you're having one last blow-out before getting virtuous for Lent, or are just using Pancake Day as an excuse to whip up a batch, make your pancakes perfect with these top tips...
Make a belting batter
Perfecting your batter is the first stage of 'wow'-factor pancakes, and rather than throwing everything into a bowl and mixing, take care with the order in which you combine your ingredients.
"Always mix the dry ingredients first," advises Paul Daniel, head chef of London's Riding House Cafe restaurant. "Separate the eggs, then add the yolks to the dry ingredients. Finally, whip the egg whites and fold them gently into the rest of the pancake mix. This keeps everything light and fluffy. Remember not to overwork the mixture - otherwise all that hard work whipping egg whites is a waste of time!"
According to Simon Wadham of The Rivington Grill, making sure your batter isn't too thick is crucial. "It needs to flow quite easily to give you a nice light and thin pancake," he says.
Chris Ison, PA Archive, Press Association Images
Always mix the dry ingredients first before adding the wet ingredients
Alan Stewart of Manson restaurant advises using just milk (rather than milk and water) for extra richness, adding that you should leave your batter to stand in the fridge for at least an hour before stirring it and cooking it.
Fine tune your temperature
When it comes to the cooking, making sure your non-stick pan is at the right temperature is a priority, according to the chefs. "The reason the first pancake always fails is that the pan is never normally at temperature," says telly chef Gizzi Erskine. "The pan needs to be really hot and then turned down to a low to medium heat to regulate its temperature."
Using your butter as a gauge of temperature is a good trick. "Put your pan over the heat and add the butter," says Stewart. "When the butter has melted, the pan is at the right temperature: if it's foaming or spitting, then you need to lower the heat."
Wadham advises keeping the pan moving while the butter melts. "This stops the solids from catching on the bottom of your pan, preventing the butter from burning," he says.
"A nice gentle heat is best," adds Daniel. "When the pancake comes away from the sides of the pan, it's ready to be transferred to the oven."
Give it a swirl
"Pour in the mix, swirl it round the pan to make the flattened shape and then for really thin pancakes, pour out any excess mixture," says Erskine, who advises keeping a bowl with paper towel dipped in vegetable oil nearby to wipe the pan between pancakes.
"When you add the batter, encourage it to run all over the base of the pan to form a single thin coating," says Wadham. "Then return it to the heat, and allow the pancake to colour. You may want to turn the temperature down a tad to stop it from over-colouring."
To flip or not to flip?
The infamous pancake toss can be the making or breaking of your efforts. For those intent on trying the toss, Wadham has this advice: "Once the pancake has coloured it should basically release itself, so holding the pan at waist height with your arm extended, and the pan at a slight angle, nudge the pancake so as it starts to creep up the opposite side of the pan (as you are standing) even slightly past the top, then with a swift but not erratic motion flip the pancake. Once tossed, allow the pancake a short time to cook the rest of the batter, this will only take a minute or so."
Flickr, Getty Images
American-style pancakes with blueberries
Lemon and sugar is a classic and delicious accompaniment, but to elevate your pancakes from a simple tradition to an elegant dish, try some of these suggestions...
"Dulce de leche, banana and chocolate sauce with a dollop of whipped cream can definitely float my boat," says Erskine.
Stewart prefers good marmalade as a topping. "Thin it down by heating it gently with a little extra water (or even a splash of orange liqueur) and serve spooned over the folded pancakes, perhaps with cream to pour on," he says.
Daniel suggests berries and clotted cream, or bananas and maple syrup, but Wadham prefers his savoury. "Try tomato and melted cheese, or a nice crispy salad rolled in the pancake. Smoked salmon and crème fraîche, smoked mackerel and cream cheese, even some leftover bolognese and melted cheese," he says.
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20 years ago Pancake day was a half day so schools and business closed so communities could have a afternoon together to enjoy life before the serious business of lent. #britishculturesthathavegonethewayofthedodo
Come on guys, this is making pancakes not rocket science. 1 cup flour, 1cup milk, 1large egg stick it in a liquidizer and the batter is ready.
Whoever said made with milk it sticks to the pan, well its because you pan isn't hot enough.
Been making them this way for years and they always come out right. Trust msn to try and make the simplist thing in the world complicated.
Of ant the Chefs.....well now you know why a 25p pancake cost £s in a hotel.
It appears all communications are being controlled via the internet. Mobile phones have been hacked without our knowledge so maybe the internet also.
Now looking at food makes me hungry,
But I will now go out to the shops and buy my pancakes, saves all the kitchen mess, and I am sure I can get one from the shops quicker than to make them in the kitchen,
Lazy me !